On This Page:
- About Northern FIRE Research, Projects, and Publications
- Current and Ongoing Research Projects
- Past Research Project
- Our Publications
The effects of the economy, social conditions, a range of barriers to health care access and and other determinants of health have a profound effect on women's lives and health. Women North Network/Northern FIRE works with academic and community researchers on policy and action oriented research into the intersecting issues related to the social determinants. We disseminate information, resources and knowledge to promote women-centred, gender informed approaches to health in northern, rural and remote areas.
2020-2025: Women's Healing in New Spain 1530-1750
Principal Investigator: Dr. Jacqueline Holler
Funding: SSHRC Insight
Project Summary: More information coming soon.
2012-Ongoing: Hitchhiking and Sexual Violence in the North
Principal Investigator: Dr. Jacqueline Holler
Funding: Civil Forfeiture Grant, NCCAH
Project Summary: More information coming soon.
2018-2020: Understanding Precarity in Northern BC: A Multidimentional Approach
Principal Investigator: Straus; Dawn Hemingway
Northern Lead: Dr. Indrani Margolin
Project Summary: More Information coming soon.
2019: Addressing Sexual and Domestic Violence in the Northern BC
Principal Investigator: Dr Jacqueline Holler; Dawn Hemingway, Dr. Indrani Margolin, Dr. Lela Zimmer
Funding: CI Civil Forfeiture
Project Summary: More information coming soon.
2009-2015: Centre of Research on Gender and Social Disparities in Mental Health and Addictions
Principal Investigator: Morrows
Chief Investigators: Dawn Hemingway; Dr. Indrani Margolin, University of Northern British Columbia
Project Summary: More Information coming soon.
2009-2014: Globalization and Precarious Work in Canada’s North
Principal Investigator: Ernie Lightman, University of Toronto
Northern Lead: Dawn Hemingway, University of Northern British Colombia
Chief Investigators: Dr. Indrani Margolin and Dr. Lela Zimmer, University of Northern British Columbia
Funding: Northern Communities SSHRC
Project Summary: to provide critically needed information and analysis to assist residents, community organizations, policy makers and academics in understanding precarious employment and its impacts in northern contexts. This national study is designed to afford access to the voices of northern residents, and to groups which are not only economically and socially marginalized, but also frequently beyond the reach of researchers. University of Northern British Columbia faculty member Dawn Hemingway, as part of the work of Women North/Northern FIRE, will lead a sub-project in northern BC examining the specific experience of vulnerable, northern women.
2008-2009: A Community-Based Women’s Health Research Action Project
Faculty and Community Researchers: Christina McLennan (Kamloops Women’s Resource Group Society & Women North/Northern FIRE); Dawn Hemingway (UNBC); Julie Drolet (TRU); Trish Archibald (TRU); and Natalie Clarke (TRU).
Funding: Michael Smith Foundation and Women's Health Research Network
Project Summary: A Joint Research Initiative Between Kamloops Women’s Resource Group Society (KWRGS), Women North Network (WNN)/Northern FIRE (UNBC) and Thompson Rivers University (TRU). This project was initiated to support an emergent community-based team that would identify and develop a research agenda and define a direction for future projects to improve women’s health in the Kamloops area. Women North/Northern FIRE was asked to be a resource on this project by providing support and information based on the developmental experience of the Women North Network.
2007-2008: Health of Northern Women 45 Years of Age and Older
Faculty Researcher: Dawn Hemingway, University of Northern British Columbia
Research Assistant: Melinda Allison received a research fellowship and used a subset of the data for her Master of Social Work thesis.
Funding: Northern Health/Provincial Women’s Health Network/Ministry of Healthy Living and Sport
Project Summary: This project explored the self-identified determinants of health most salient to women 45 years and older in northern BC. Almost five hundred women from across the North contributed their voices to this research through the completion of surveys and participation in focus groups. Women North Network/Northern FIRE played a central role in participant recruitment and knowledge transfer; for example, a notice went out to all network members about the study; the main link to the online survey was available on the Women North/Northern FIRE websites as are the preliminary research findings.
2004-2008: Women’s Responses to Rural Decline: Implications for Housing Policies
Faculty and Community Researchers: JoAnne Fiske (U Lethbridge); Dawn Hemingway (UNBC), Heather Peters (UNBC), Anita Vaillancourt (PhD student U of Toronto); Christina McLennan (TRU); Barb Keith (UNBC sessional instructor & clinician).
Project Summary: This project (which became known as Voices of Women Project) explored the interrelation of economic decline, care provision and housing policies on the lives of northern women caregivers.- formal, informal and volunteer. Women North Network/Northern FIRE facilitated this project as a mechanism for locating participants and initiating snowball sampling, organizing community meetings and disseminating study information and results.
First Nation Women Encounters with Mainstream Health Care Systems and Services. Annette Browne (UNBC nursing professor), Jo-Anne Fiske (UNBC anthropology professor) and Geraldine Thomas (Saik'uz Treaty Manager).
Women's Health in the North.
Beverly Leipert (UNBC, nursing professor).
FAS/E: Finding Solutions.
Barbara Herringer (UNBC Social Work Chair) and community research team from Prince George Healthiest Babies Possible.
Out in the Cold: Barriers to Health Care for Lesbians Living in Northern Regions.
Theresa Healy (Contact)
Indrani Margolin (BA (Honours), MSW, RSWw, PhD)
The American Journal of Dance Therapy, 41(2), 170-192.
Abstract: Dating violence against adolescent women can devastate their health and long-term quality of life. While high school programs have been developed to address this worldwide epidemic, somatic antidotes are still not widely utilized despite evidence from the psychophysiology of relational violence trauma that there is an inextricable link between the body and mind and effective recovery requires a holistic approach. Creative dance, derived from dance education, can support female adolescent trauma victims of dating violence to reconnect with physical, mental, and emotional experiences that were severed during traumatic exposure. This qualitative arts-based case study narratively explores one adolescent woman’s experience of creative dance as an intervention for survivors of dating violent relationships. Conceptually, I draw from dance education, Authentic Movement, and Amber Gray’s Restorative Movement Psychotherapy. A feminist lens is utilized in an attempt to address calls to action from previous DMT researchers to tackle oppressive structural forces and increase activism in dance/movement therapy. Findings show that inner-directed dance can therapeutically facilitate restoration after trauma by recovering the social engagement system and decision-making capacity, reducing social isolation, and increasing bodily self-awareness, and self-esteem.
Harnessing planned, sustainable resource development: Meeting the needs of northerners as they age. (2016)
By: Hemingway, D. & Margolin, I.
Indrani Margolin (BA (Honours), MSW, RSW, PhD) & Dominique Riviere (BA, MA, PhD)
Journal of Arts and Humanities, 4(10), 74-85.
Abstract: This study considers the relationship between artistic creation and negotiation of social identity in a multicultural context. This was accomplished by examining select performance DVDs from the amateur dance collective of which the researchers were both previous members. It is argued that dance in multicultural contexts creates an opportunity for critical reflection on how the dancer and the dance performance both challenge and reinforce normative understandings about an individual’s social identity (gender, race, class, etc.). The article concludes with a discussion of the implications of this contradiction found in dance creation, performance, and education.
Indrani Margolin (BA (Honours), MSW, RSW, PhD)
Dance, Movement & Spiritualities, 1(1), 143-162.
Abstract: Inner-directed movement is a sacred practice that can heal emotional wounds lodged in the body. When the body is attended to with ever-present openness to arising sensations, feelings and images, and drawn on to move and be moved from an inner wholeness, emotional and spiritual transformation occurs. This article reveals the ways in which dance and spirituality co-mingle in girls’ and women’s lives through creative dance. The author presents a qualitative arts-based inquiry to explore how creative movement impacts adolescent girls from a first-hand perspective. To locate herself within the research, the author explores her encounters that led to dance and spirituality as an inquiry of bodyself discovery, rupture, healing, insight and ecstasy. Findings include body-image acceptance, authenticity with peers, and bodyself respect and reverence as a result of individual and group dance work. Narratives are framed within Jungian active imagination, Authentic Movement, spirituality concepts of self and bodyself, and a feminist perspective of female embodiment through creative movement.
Rural, northern Canadian women’s caregiving experiences in the context of economic values. (2014)
By: Peters, H. I., Hemingway, D., Vaillancourt, A.,& Fiske, J.
Links for two reviews of the book this chapter is published in:
Expanding empathy through dance. (2013)
By: Margolin, I.
The role of gender in housing of individuals with severe mental illness: A qualitative study of the Canadian service context (2013)
Sean Kidd, Gursharan Virdee, Terry Krupa, Darrell Burnham, Dawn Hemingway, Indrani Margolin, Michelle Patterson, & Denise Zabkiewicz
British Medical Journal, Open,3:e002914.
Abstract: This study was undertaken to examine the role of gender as it relates to access to housing among individuals with severe mental illness (SMI) in Canada. An exploratory, qualitative approach was used to assess the perspectives of Canadian housing experts. The focus of inquiry was on the role of gender and associated intersections (eg, ethnicity) in pathways to housing access and housing needs for individuals with SMI. A purposeful sampling strategy was undertaken to access respondents across all Canadian geographic regions, with diversity across settings (urban and rural) and service sectors (hospital based and community based). Twenty-nine individuals (6 men and 23 women) considered to be experts in a housing service context as it pertains to SMI were recruited. On average, participants had worked for 15 years in services that specialised in the support and delivery of housing services to people with SMI. Semistructured interviews with participants focused on the role gender plays in access to housing in their specific context. Barriers and facilitators were examined as were intersections with other relevant factors, such as ethnicity, poverty and parenthood. Quantitative ratings of housing accessibility as a function of gender were also collected. Participants across geographic contexts described a lack of shelter facilities for women, leading to a reliance on exploitative circumstances. Other findings included a compounding of discrimination for ethnic minority women, the unique resource problems faced in rural contexts, and the difficulties that attend access to shelter and housing for parents with SMI. These findings suggest that, along with a generally poor availability of housing stock for individuals with SMI, access problems are compounded by a lack of attention to the unique needs and illness trajectories that attend gender.
Health policy and the politics of citizenship: Northern women’s care giving in rural British Columbia. (2012)
By: Fiske, J., Hemingway, D., Vaillancourt, A., Peters, H., Keith, B.,Burrill, A., & McLennan, C.
Marina Morrow, Dawn Hemingway, Jill Grant, & Brenda Jamer
The International Electronic Journal of Rural and Remote Health Research, Education, Practice and Policy, 1-12.
Abstract: This study employed a qualitative research design, which involved field research and interviews and focus groups with key people involved in the transfer process. Analysis of the data utilized a gender-based lens to clarify the differing needs and concerns of male and female patients and to attend to possible needs relating to culture and ethnicity. The research suggests that it is important to attend to the differing needs of women and men in the context of psychogeriatric care, as well as to other factors such as ethnicity and culture, in order to provide appropriate care.
Using art-based methods to create research spaces that encourage meaningful dialogue about gender, social inequity, recovery and mental illness. (2012)
By: Margolin, I., Krupa, T., Kidd, S.A., Burnham, D., Hemingway, D., Patterson, M., & Zabkiewicz, D
Interweaving Caring and Economics in the Context of Place: Experiences of Northern and Rural Women Caregivers (2010)
Heather Peters, Jo-Anne Fiske, Dawn Hemingway, Anita Vaillancourt, Christina McLennan, Barb Keith and Anne Burrill
Ethics and Social Welfare, 4(2), 172-187.
Abstract: Caregivers in northern, rural and remote communities live with social policies that are shaped by urban norms rather than rural realities. During economic decline and government cuts, issues of limited services and dependency on a single industry arise. This can lead to unemployment, community and family instability, and a decline in health and well-being. During these times caregivers face increased pressure to voluntarily fill gaps left by service cuts. Research with women caregivers in four communities in northern British Columbia (BC) explores the experiences of caring and the social, geographic, economic and political contexts within which the caregiving occurs.
Understanding Personal Health Decision Trade-Offs of Older Women: Findings from a Pilot Study (2010)
Jean Kozak & Dawn Hemingway (MSc, MSW, RSW)
Centre for Healthy Aging at Providence, 1-7.
Abstract: Women 65 years of age and older are at a greater risk of having inadequate financial resources, are more vulnerable to living with illness and struggling with the associated costs of care. Marital status and personal support networks affect a woman’s ability to meet her own health needs. This pilot study reveals that low-income, older women prioritize their health needs based on urgency; use a range of coping strategies to delay/reduce personal health costs; and may consult with care providers to identify more affordable health purchases.
Heather Peters (MSW) & Dawn Hemingway (MSc, MSW, RSW)
Perspectives, 31(2), 14-15. Newsletter of the BC Association of Social Workers.
Abstract: Social workers understand that caring work is often undervalued in comparison to other occupations and societal roles. Recent research on women’s caregiving roles in the northern British Columbia community of Quesnel gives voice to a related theme about the hierarchical nature of caregiving itself and the notions of power and status embedded within. This article emphasizes the need for social workers to take an active role in helping women face the hierarchies they struggle with in their personal and professional lives.
Melinda Allison (BA, MSWc)
Supervised by: Dawn Hemingway (MSc, MSW, RSW)
Abstract: This project explored the self-identified determinants of health most salient to women 45 years and older in northern BC. Almost five hundred women from across the North contributed their voices to this report through the completion of surveys and participation in focus groups. This report offers a number of recommendations based on the research findings, directed at Northern Health specifically, as well as other levels of governmental decision makers and health policy writers. The study’s challenges and limitations are outlined, as are suggestions for future research related to women’s health and wellness in northern BC.
“Women’s Perspectives on the Mountain Pine Beetle” Project (2008) Link Coming Soon
Debora Munoz and Sarah Boyd-Noël
Final report and evaluation.
Abstract: The “Women’s Perspectives on the Mountain Pine Beetle” forum provided opportunity for women to discuss the issue of the Mountain Pine Beetle (MPB) epidemic. This study explored the social, economic and health related impacts perceived by women from beetle-affected communities in northern BC. The forum provided a venue to: gather ‘situated knowledge’ of participants; discuss women’s concerns about the MPB; and discuss women’s involvement with decision-making around the MPB. The goal was to begin conversation and to identify action steps to address the impacts of the MPB on women, families and communities in beetle-affected communities in BC.
In the North: From Corner to Corner: The Needs, Trends, and Working Conditions of Sex Workers in Prince George, British Columbia (2007)
Data collection by: Christal Capostinsky, Tina Joyce, Candace Lolly, and Sherrice Lucier
A document of Prince George New Hope Society, 1-89.
Abstract: In Canada, sex work is legal; however, sections of the criminal code make it impossible for sex workers to work without legal repercussions. Sex work is based on inherent choice, meaning that sex workers control and negotiate the environment and terms. As environments and conditions change, workers quickly transition from sex workers to survival workers. A survival situation is classified as any situation where workers are not permitted a choice. Most women in the sex industry cannot exit without social, emotional, financial and legal support. Communities need to create awareness and education around sex workers to everyone.
Spinning A Northern Web: Women Using Information and Communication Technology to Network for Health and Wellness (2006)
Christina McLennan (BSW, MSW), Dawn Hemingway (MSc, MSW, RSW) & Gerard Bellefeuille
The International Journal of Technology Knowledge & Society, 2(2), 49-57.
Abstract: This paper presents a case study that explored the innovative use of information and communication technology (ICT) to promote women’s health interests in northern, rural and remote communities in British Columbia, Canada. The participants offer their views about using ICT and provide an account of what supports and prevents their access to and participation in a web-based learning network. Also addressed is how ICT can enhance the ability of social workers and health care professionals to connect with diverse communities in the course of influencing and developing social and health policy and service delivery in northern, rural and remote communities.
Harnessing Information and Communication Technology to Build an Online Community of Northern/Rural Women (2005)
Dawn Hemingway (MSc, MSW, RSW) & Christina McLennan (BSW, MSW)
Canadian Woman Studies, 24(4), 161-166.
Abstract: To overcome obstacles related to inequality and injustice resulting from living in a northern/rural setting, a group of women from across northern BC have come together to develop the Women North Network (WNN). A primarily web-based network that harnesses information and communication technology (ICT) as a tool to connect women around issues of common concern. Across the region women are coming to recognize that local concerns about the health and well-being of their communities and families have larger structural, systemic implications that need to be addressed collectively and beyond narrow geographic confines.
Spinning a Northern Web: Women Using Information and Communication Technology to Network For Health And Wellness (2005) Link Coming Soon
Christina McLennan (BSW, MSW)
Thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Social Work.
Abstract: This case study explores women’s experiences using information and communication technology (ICT) to address women’s health concerns in northern, rural and remote communities in British Columbia. Incorporating features of collaborative, action research methodology, an online focus group structure was created for twelve women from across northern BC to interact with one another and undertake internet-based activities. The setting for the study was the primarily internet-based Women North Network (WNN). Findings suggest that professionals using information technology will have increased opportunity to include diverse communities in developing social and health policies and services for northern, rural and remote communities.
Poverty Eradication and the Knowledge Society (2004) Link Coming Soon
Sophia Huyer (Ph.D.) and Swasti Mitter
Abstract: This paper briefly summarizes international research and policy discourse regarding poverty reduction, the Millennium Development Goals, and the close connection of gender equality to achieving these Goals. The 2003 Human Development Report identified six “policy clusters” that poverty reduction depends on: human development; food production; infrastructure investment; developing industrial development policies; human rights and social equity; and environmental sustainability and urban management. This paper, and the accompanying paper by Swasti Mitter, address the use of information and communications technology (ICT) by women in these six areas, and the potential use of ICTs to promote gender equality in poverty-reduction strategies.
Richmond Health Board
A document developed by the Richmond Health Board, 1-46.
Abstract: On February 24, 2000, the Vancouver / Richmond Health Board (V/RHB) approved the use of the Framework for Women-Centred Health to guide its policies, programs, services and structures. The framework assists the V/RHB to improve the health of women by making women-centred approaches to health care a primary focus within the Vancouver / Richmond region.
Chris Leischner (RSW, MSW) as principal author, with Valerie Johnson, Barbara Mallet, and Julie Sam as Participatory Researchers.
Northern Family Health Society
Abstract: This participatory action research had fourteen women, and later their daughters, explore the process of their own substance recovery and empowerment. They used Story-Dialogue methods to uncover the source of their marginalization, produce social action to claim their own voice, and potentially help other women through their process of “discovery.” Prevention of FAS needs to begin in early childhood to prevent traumas that drain young women of their ability to define themselves and to avoid later mental health problems. It is recommended that women-centered treatment services, and policy makers incorporate more “upstream” prevention work around women’s substance misuse.
Lynda Anderson, Theresa Healy, Barbara Herringer, Barbara Isaac, and Ty Perry
A document for the British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health, 1-28.
Abstract: This qualitative study illuminates the impact of the anti-lesbian/anti-gay social climate of the north and its permeation into health care services. For lesbians living in this context, considerations of personal safety and personal freedom are intricately intertwined with health. Significant changes are needed in services and in the community at large to bring down the barriers that obstruct lesbians’ access to health care. This report documents a uniquely collaborative participatory action research process that blurred conventional boundaries between researcher and researched and has led to social action initiated by participants.
Aboriginal Women With Addictions: A Discussion Paper on Triple Marginalization in the Health Care System (2000)
Lynda Brunen (BSW c)
Supervisor: Dr. Theresa Healy
Thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Social Work
A document of The Northern Secretariat of the BC Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health, 1-22.
Abstract: This paper undertook to define and develop a viable research question in women’s health; to identify and assess some relevant literature, and to provide recommendations for further research. Furthermore, this document delineates a significant, poorly understood and under researched problem in health care delivery. The literature review component explored racism in health care, particularly, the ways in which First Nations women who misuse substances are triply marginalized in the health care system, and the devastating implications of this. The groundwork outlined provides a basis from which to launch further research with potentially significant outcomes.
Annette Browne, Jo-Anne Fiske, and Geraldine Thomas
A document for the British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health, 1-37.
Abstract: This qualitative research examined First Nations women’s encounters with mainstream health care services. The study comprised of two interviews each with ten First Nations women from a small reserve in northern British Columbia. Women described their encounters with health care services under broad categories of invalidating or affirming. Both types of encounters are described along with their influences, and policy implications are raised and listed in the conclusion. The women’s stories may be read as illustrations of the broader social, economic, and political forces influencing the lives of First Nations women in relation to the dominant social systems.
Out in the Cold: Barriers to health care for lesbians (n.d.) Link coming soon
Maria Hudspith (UBC) and Amber Perry (UNBC)
Project Undertaken by the Northern Secretariat of the BC Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health, 1-22.
Abstract: Out in the Cold: Barriers to health care for lesbians was a participatory research project undertaken through the Northern Secretariat by a group of women based in both the community and the university. As a background to the project, Research Associates provided the following critical discussions. The first deals with health care issues faced by lesbians generally, while the second sketches the social context for lesbians in the north, specifically in Prince George.
The Determinants of Women’s Health in Northern Rural and Remote Regions: Examples and Recommendations from Northern British Columbia (n.d.)
Prepared by Northern FIRE B.C. Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health
A document for The Northern Secretariat of the B.C. Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health, 1-28.
Abstract: This paper takes a social determinants approach to discuss the health of women who live in northern, remote and rural regions. Specifically, the paper examines examples from the work of northern researchers at the University of Northern British Columbia and the Northern Secretariat of the BC Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health to discuss the health status and health concerns of women from various sub-populations. The paper discusses the common experience of maintaining health operate in centres far away from southern metropolitan areas, and how factors interact to compound their influence on health and capacity for health-seeking behaviour.
Speaking With Our Own Voices: Recommendations for Initiatives to Improve Women’s Health in Northern British Columbia (n.d.) Link coming soon
Jessica Madrid (RN, BScN)
Abstract: This qualitative research occurred in two distinct phases (Planning from Strength and Mobilizing from Strength) that consisted of focus groups in six northern communities. After preliminary data collection, a final session was held in Prince George, where a representative from each community attended to participate in validation of research findings and data analysis. This revealed that women within the northern health region were highly resourceful in designing initiatives to address women’s health and wellness. This research discovered that northern women required acknowledgement of the value of women’s health and support in their endeavors to enhance local women’s health and wellness.
A Sociology of Lesbian Health.
Papers by Maria Hudspith and Amber Perry and by Kathy Buhler
Income and Social Status: The key factor that determines health status. Likewise, social status affects health by determining the degree of control people have over life circumstances and, hence, their capacity to take action.
Employment and Working Conditions: Meaningful, non-precarious employment, economic stability, and a healthy work environment are associated with good health.
Education and Literacy: Meaningful and relevant education equips people with knowledge and skills for daily living, enables them to participate in their community, and increases opportunities for employment.
Childhood Experiences: Positive prenatal and early childhood experiences have a significant effect on subsequent health.
Physical Environment: Factors such as air and water quality, the type of housing and the safety of our communities have a major impact on health.2. Social Support Networks: Support from families, friends and communities is important in helping people deal with difficult situations and maintaining a sense of mastery over life circumstances.
Social Support and Coping Skills: Support from families, friends and communities is important in helping people deal with difficult situations and maintaining a sense of mastery over life circumstances. The health of individuals and communities as a whole is strongly influenced by the values and norms supported by their geographical area. Effective coping skills enable people to self advocate, connect with community supports, solve problems and make choices that enhance health.
Healthy Behaviours: Personal health practices can be helpful in preventing diseases and promoting self-care
Access to Health Services: There is a relationship between the availability of preventive and primary care services and improved health (e.g., well baby and immunization clinics, education programs about healthy choices).
Biology and Genetic Endowment: Recent research in the biological sciences has shed new light on "physiological make-up" as an important health determinant.
Gender: Transgender, cisgender, intersex, and gender non-conforming individuals face different health challenges at different ages. In addition, literature has demonstrated that gendered norms impact individual health as well as the health system's practices, policies and priorities.
Culture: Dominant cultural values both directly and indirectly contribute to issues of discrimination, marginalization, stigmatization and devaluation of other cultures. The can result in additional barriers to culturally appropriate health care and services.
Race / Racism: Experiences of discrimination, racism, and historical and ongoing trauma are important social determinants of health for certain groups such as Indigenous Peoples, Black Canadians, and all People of Colour.
The Public Health Agency of Canada (2013). Underlying Premises and Evidence Table. Retrieved from: Government of Canada Social determinants of health and health inequities